Understanding the 4C’s of Marketing Mix

Ever since the beginning, businesses focused on themselves more than the customers. But the rules of this game has been changed long ago. It’s the customer who runs the market and who shapes the marketing mix of the businesses. The 4P’s of marketing mix or the seller oriented marketing theory was claimed to be dead in 1990 by Mr. Bob Lauterborn, who asserted the use of 4C’s of Marketing over the retired 4P’s.

This new approach of 4C’s of marketing shifts the focus from producer to consumer and provides the better blueprint to follow for the businesses that cater to niche audience. In contradiction to Jerry McCarthy and Phil Kotler’s 4P approach, this model revolves around how to serve customers better.

The shift from 4P’s to 4C’s isn’t just an exercise in semantics. It reflects a change in mindset overtime.

Quoting  Lauterborn –

Forget product. Study Consumer wants and needs.

Forget price. Understand the consumer’s cost to satisfy that want or need.

Forget place. Think convenience to buy.

Forget promotion. The word is communication.

The model encourages marketers to view their processes and form strategies from the customer’s point of view.

The 4C’s of Marketing Mix


To stay in the market for long and to find a position in customers’ minds, you have to think like customers and form strategies which benefit both the parties. The 4C’s marketing concept focuses on niche marketing unlike mass marketing which was propagated by the 4P’s. The more you know the consumer, the better are your targeting strategies, and more is the conversion rate. The 4C’s of Marketing Mix are:

Consumer wants and needs

Forget product. Study Consumer wants and needs.

In this highly competitive environment, your product will not create its own demand if it isn’t desired by the consumer. You need to study the consumer wants and needs before developing the product as it’s the needs and wants which trigger demand.

This not only will help you in developing a desired product but also will help you

  • in developing a positioning strategy for your product, and
  • in marketing your product as per your customer’s needs.


Forget price. Understand the consumer’s cost to satisfy that want or need.

Price is only a subset of total cost incurred to satisfy the want or need. The consumer incur much more expenditure in acquiring your good or service. The cost subset of marketing 4C’s include monetary as well as non monetary costs. Some of them are:

Price – The is the amount the customer pays to the seller to acquire the product.

Additional cost of acquiring – The cost incurred to drive to an outlet to purchase your product, or the cost incurred while researching about your product, etc.

Cost of conscience – Suppose you’re dealing in a non vegetarian food product. Your consumer might incur a cost of conscience when he buys and eat your non vegetarian product.

Opportunity cost – This refers to a benefit your consumer could have received, but gave up, to buy your product or service.

The cost subset of Marketing 4C’s is a reflection of total cost of ownership unlike the Price subset of Marketing 4P’s which consider only the price aspect of the cost.


Forget place. Think convenience to buy.

Convenience is the key to more sales. Most of your customers choose a product based on the convenience of purchase. The focus should be on –

  • to research and find out all the channels of distribution your customers consider while making a purchase.
  • to walk on your customer’s path and selling your product on the channels he is searching on
  • to remove all the barriers your customers face while buying your product.

The convenience aspect of marketing 4C’s is often neglected by businesses who prioritize greater profit margins over customer’s convenience. However, convenience result in more benefits to the brand in the long run.


Forget promotion. The word is communication.

While promotion is manipulative and is forced to the buyer, communication is cooperative and is approved by both the seller and the buyer.

Consumer always want to hear ‘what’s in it for me?’, while the seller always want to tell ‘this is the best product in the market’. An effective communication considers both the sides and results in a win-win situation. Communication aspect of marketing 4C’s asserts a give and take relationship between the seller and the buyer, unlike promotion aspect of marketing 4P’s which doesn’t consider consumer’s point of view at all.

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Understanding the 4C's of Marketing Mix

by Aashish Pahwa